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City bids attorney of 44 years farewell
Former Ceres mayor and now State Senator Anthony Cannella (left) made a rare appearance at the Ceres City Council meeting on Monday to help the city celebrate the retirement of City Attorney Michael Mike Lyions. County Supervisor Jim DeMartini and a representative of Congressman Jeff Denham also presented Certificates of Recognition to Lyions for 44 years of service. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Richard Nixon was president when Mike Lyions started representing the city of Ceres.

Today, for the first time since then, Lyions leaves the post as city attorney after 44 years of service. He was celebrated at Monday's council meeting.

Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra said the city will be "forever grateful for you shared insights and guidance, you embodied our values of integrity, commitment and service while exemplifying steadfast dedication and loyalty."

Vierra presented a lamp to the retiring attorney, saying that a rocking chair did not seem appropriate for the 71-year-old.

Former Ceres mayor and now State Senator Anthony Cannella said the city was losing a valuable member of the city team who brought great institutional knowledge. He wished Lyions well on his retirement, which will include traveling with wife Joann.

"I just want to say it's been my privilege to serve the city and its elected officials and all of its professional department heads and employees over the years - and it has been a long time," said Lyions. "But it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the city."

He received a standing ovation.

On Monday the Ceres City Council hired Tom Hallinan from the firm of Churchwell White LLP as the interim city attorney. Deputy city attorney roles will be filled by Douglas L. White and Nubia I. Goldstein.

Lyions abandoned his private practice in 2002 to solely devote his time to being a full-time city attorney.

Lyions said he started with the city of Ceres when he was 27 while working for the city attorney Ernie Rushing. He is now 71. Rushing had secured the city contract from Myron Moyle when he retired. Lyions started out just standing by at Planning Commission meetings and substituting for Rushing at council meetings. He later became deputy city attorney and by de facto started covering all the meetings, working with mayors Brian Carlin, Gary Condit, Sal Cannella, Jim Delhart, Louie Arrollo, Richard McBride, Barbara Hinton, Leo Havener, Eric Ingwerson, Delinda Moore, Anthony Cannella and Chris Vierra.

"I'm going to retire and start doing some of the things I want to do," said Lyions, who doesn't rule out helping in law matters on an as-needed basis. "I have hobbies."

Personnel transitions this year included the departure of Art deWerk who started out the year as acting city manager and then solely as police chief. Toby Wells was made city manager while Lt. Brent Smith was assigned as acting police chief. Finance Director Sheila Cumberland also retired.